Vanessa Bryant and the Kobe Bryant estate have decided not to continue their endorsement partnership with Nike after the five year long contract extension expired this month.
Although the late NBA legend penned the extension of his long-running partnership with Nike following his retirement from basketball in 2016, several reports suggested that the five time NBA champion was not having a smooth sailing with the American sportswear giants.
It was speculated that Kobe Bryant and his estate were irked by Nike deciding to reduce the number and availability of Kobe products soon after the player parted ways with the sport.
Back in December last year, it was revealed by Shervin Pishevar, the co-founder of American venture capital firm Sherpa Capital that Kobe wanted to part ways with Nike and launch his own shoe brand.
Despite the termination of contract, Vanessa Bryant promises to continue honoring the legacies of Kobe and Gigi
Now, with the post-retirement endorsement extension having expired on 13th April, the widowed Vanessa and Kobe’s estate has finally decided not to continue with Nike anymore.
“Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21,” Vanessa revealed in an interview with ESPN, “Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe.
“It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.”
Although she decided to terminate the partnership, Vanessa still insisted that Kobe’s fanbase will always be allowed to wear her late husband’s products as they are one of the highest-selling sportswear merchandise.
“I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change,” added Vanessa.
While the rights to Kobe’s signature and the coveted “Mamba” logo are now solely owned by his estate, the “Sheath” logo which is seen on Kobe’s sneakers are still owned mutually by both Nike and the estate.
However, now with the endorsement contract set not to be renewed, it is believed that Nike will put a stop to the manufacture of Kobe branded products and the estate may engage in negotiations with other sportswear brands.
Before joining hands with Nike, Kobe Bryant had signed a six-year deal with Adidas worth an estimated $48 million before the start of the 1996-97 NBA season and the German sportswear titans could very well be the future option for Kobe products.
“Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers,” an official statement from Nike was quoted by ESPN, “he pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”